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Mexico announces arrest of Gulf drug cartel leader Ramirez Trevino

Mexican officials say they have captured the leader of an organized drug ring known as the Gulf cartel. The arrest is the latest coup for the government, which has vowed a crackdown on the drug gangs.

A Mexican government statement said that security forces had caught Mario Ramirez Trevino, known as X-20 or "The Bald One," in the northern state of Tamaulipas on Saturday.

Ramirez Trevino was said to have been captured in Rio Bravo, a town close to the border with Texas. There were reports that Mexican military helicopters had been seen flying in the region.

Officials said more information about the operation would be given in a press conference on Sunday.

The US State Department claims that Ramirez Trevino is responsible for the trafficking of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States. It had offered a $5 million (3.75-million-euro) reward for information leading to his arrest.

Ramirez Trevino has only been leader of the cartel for a short time, after former chief Jorge Costilla, known as "El Coss," was captured in September.

Ramirez Trevino is reportedly a former police officer, thought to be aged about 51. The Gulf cartel has lost some of its power and influence since it split with the Zeta gang in 2010. The latter has extended its power base into 17 out of Mexico's 32 federal states.

Since Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's government came into office last year, it has pledged to reduce drug-related violence that has led to more than 70,000 murders since 2006.

Mexican authorities last month had their biggest coup, arresting Zeta boss Miguel Angel Trevino, alias "Z-40."

The Zetas are engaged in a battle with the Sinaloa cartel to control trafficking routes into the United States. The Sinaloa gang is run by Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman, who is Mexico's most wanted man.

rc / ch (AFP, Reuters)